Islamabad, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- The president of Pakistan on Tuesday signed a decree to expedite justice in cases of sexual violence against women and children.
The law, signed by President Arif Alvi, provides for the creation of special courts for speedy trials, and comes in response to a series of brutal sexual abuse cases that have caused outrage in the Asian country.
“The Ordinance will help resolve matters of sexual abuse/rape expeditiously against women and children,” Alvi tweeted.
The Anti-Rape Ordinance 2020 establishes the creation of Anti-rape Crisis Cells that will conduct medical examinations of victims within six hours once a rape is reported.
Moreover, special courts will be set up for cases of sexual violence, where trials must be concluded within a maximum of four months.
The identities of victims will be kept secret for their safety and the disclosure of their names will be punishable by law.
Now, unlike before, the victims will also not have to go through cross examination in front of their alleged aggressors.
As per this new law, police officers and government officials who show negligence in these cases – something they are often accused of – will face sentences of up to three years in prison.
Moreover, the National Database and Registration Authority will also create a database of sexual aggressors.
This ordinance was approved by the Pakistani cabinet towards the end of November after a series of incidents of rape and sexual abuse rocked the country.
The final straw was the rape of a woman in September in front of her two children after their vehicle ran out of gas in the middle of the road at night.
This incident sparked a wave of outrage in Pakistan and led to calls for urgent action over the lack of adequate protection for women.
Soon after, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that he would bring a “stringent, holistic anti-rape Ordinance closing all (legal) loopholes.”
The cabinet also adopted an amendment to the Civil Code which provides for the physical castration of habitual sexual offenders, but the measure is yet to receive official approval.
Prior to the September rape case, a series of child abuse incidents have rocked the country since 2015, when officials uncovered a network of offenders who had videotaped up to 19 minors.
In 2018, the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl led to violent protests against alleged police inaction regarding such crimes. EFE-EPA